Before you can make much of a decision either way, Sarah darts forward and slaps the back of your hand hard enough to make you drop the sword. As soon as your fingers open, she sweeps the guard into her own hand, twists and presents the sword to Terra, one hand under the guard, the other under the flat of the blade. Terra takes it with a nod of thanks as you rub the stinging, aching back of your hand.
“Back to camp,” she orders. “Everybody. Now. On the double. I’m calling in an evac.”
“Because of some goofy protesters?” Sarah sounds skeptical.
“Because we can’t risk aggression against civilians,” Terra says. “This is a training exercise. Or rather, it was a training exercise before one of you assaulted a private citizen, another got kidnapped, and the third stole my personal weapon.” Her eyes skip across each and every one of you, but land most heavily on you. Her blue gaze sears into your soul, but you are distracted by the sword which is now in her hand. It’s so pretty, and it fits her in some intangible way. She’s never looked as attractive as she does right now, her hair loose, her uniform snug, the long sharp blade in her hand commanding respect and even a little fear.
“On the double,” she snaps. “Now.”
It is with no small measure of relief that you realize she’s not angry at you, or rather, she’s no more angry at you than she is at the others. You all run back to the camp, Sarah taking it in her stride, Boris lumbering along and you panting as the incline starts to get to you. As you start to slow, Terra’s palm meets your butt in a stinging slap which propels you onward.
“Hurry up, cadet,” she snarls behind you.
You open your mouth to say something, but another slap lands on your already sore bottom. Instead of arguing, you find further reserves and head up faster than before.
By the time you reach the top, your lungs are burning and so is your ass. Terra orders you all to take the camp back down and standby. You do so in silence, the mood tense. Nobody is making eye contact. You all fucked this up horribly in the first few hours and you know it. Terra stands over you all, watching silently as a fine drizzle begins to coat everything in a film of water, making your task that much less pleasant.
The sound of a heli-chopter in the distance breaks some of the tension.
“Are we going back to the Academy, ma’am?” Boris asks the question.
“We are going to Fort Fairlie,” Terra says.
“But that’s an active military base,” Boris says, befuddled. “We’re not active military… are we?”
“We will not be returning to the Academy,” Terra says. “Not for a long time, if ever.”
“Why not?” You think of all the stuff you left behind, not to mention your friends. Are you never going to see them again? “You didn’t tell us we weren’t coming back.”
“I told you that you were being assigned to a special special operations team,” Terra says. “That should have been enough notice.”
You and Boris exchange looks.
“Surprise,” Sarah laughs. “You’re fucked, just like I told you. And you don’t even know the half of it yet.”
“Quiet, Sarah,” Terra snaps.
The heli-chopter lands and you all pile in, you and Boris moving notably slower than Sarah and Terra. He looks embarrassed, probably at being taken hostage in front of Sarah. He wanted to look like the big brave alpha, you’re sure of that. It clearly didn’t work out that way for him. You’re sitting next to him where you can use his body like a shield, protecting yourself from Terra’s annoyance.
“I told you all so,” Sarah is humming under her breath as the helichopter takes to the sky.
“Sarah, that’s more than enough,” Terra growls. “When we get to the fort, you’re going into a cell.”
“So what’s new?” Sarah shrugs. “Like I care.”
“You’re going in there too,” Terra says.
“Me?” Boris points to himself.
“No,” Terra replies. “The cadet hiding next to you who thinks she got away with taking my possessions. You girls can share a cell for the night. It might teach one of you something.”
A cell? She’s going to have you locked up? What the…
“Hey! I only took that to rescue you,” you argue. “And it worked. I de-escalated the situation too. Nobody got hurt.”
“You have no idea what you were playing with, cadet,” Terra says. “You disobeyed orders, crossed boundaries… a night in a cell is nothing compared to what you deserve.”
“I know what I was playing with,” you argue. “I heard it.”
“You heard it?” Sarah snorts. “I want what she’s been smoking.”
Terra says nothing, but her eyes narrow in your direction, partly out of annoyance, but partly out of interest. She doesn’t ask you anything further, but you can feel her eyes on you as the cabin lapses into a throbbing pseudo-silence.